FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 31 2012 – Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate urges Perdue to Grant Wilmington Ten Pardon of Innocence
Barbara Howe, Libertarian Party nominee for North Carolina Governor, has announced her support for a pardon of innocence for the group known as the Wilmington Ten. The Ten were convicted in 1972 of arson and conspiracy, and served nearly a decade in prison before a federal appeals court overturned the conviction for prosecutorial and judicial misconduct. In May, Rev. Benjamin Chavis and the other five surviving members of the Wilmington Ten petitioned Governor Bev Perdue for a pardon of innocence. A pardon of innocence by Perdue would grant some closure for the surviving members of the Ten, and must come before Perdue’s term ends on December 31st.
All three key witnesses for the prosecution in the case recanted their testimonies in 1976, testifying before a grand jury that they were paid for their testimony. This September, the files of the prosecutor in the case, Jay Stroud, were released, providing further insight into the depth of the misconduct. The notes from jury selection reveal an active pursuit of jurors with possible KKK ties and attempts to have black jurors removed. The final jury selection in the case included ten white jurors and two black jurors. A fourth member of the Ten passed away in August, underscoring the need for action by Governor Perdue.
“The evidence that has been revealed over the years since the convictions paints a very gloomy picture of the North Carolina judicial system,” said Howe. “The recanting of witness statements and the prosecutorial misconduct that has come to light with the release of the Stroud files clearly demonstrate the need for action [by Perdue]. A pardon of innocence for the Wilmington Ten would show a renewed commitment by the State of North Carolina to the cause of justice.”
As the State of North Carolina has never declared the Ten innocent or withdrawn the charges against them, they remain felons in spite of the federal appeals court decision which freed them. A Change.org petition to Perdue on behalf of the Ten has been filed, and has over 600 signatures. Howe has written a letter to Perdue detailing her support for the pardon of innocence, and asks others to do the same.
About Barbara Howe
Barbara Howe is the Libertarian candidate for North Carolina governor. She has been an active member of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina since the late 1970s and has previously served as the Chair of the party and run for office on its ticket on multiple occasions. As a Libertarian, Howe is a champion of the rights of all individuals and fights injustices committed against citizens by our public institutions.